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Apostleship (Galatians 1:1)
Paul, an Apostle (Galatians 1:1) Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead).
Paul . . . In this opening verse Paul immediately identifies himself as the author of this book. The word Paul in Greek is Paulus, meaning "little' " This seems to be descriptive of the man because tradition has it that Paul was not a man of great physical stature. He was short. In the natural Paul considered himself small. But we know that if a person is small in his own eyes, God considers him great in the spiritual realm.
So many Christians today are boasting of how they are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, which is scripturally true. But it is also nothing to get puffed up in pride about. Unless a person realizes that he is nothing in the natural, he will be nothing in the spiritual either. God looks upon the heart, and no heart is great which boasts of its greatness. It is the inner man that is important, not the exterior man. I like that expression, "I'm bigger on the inside than I am on the outside! That's true. Since Jesus lives inside us, we believers are bigger within than without. Even when this outer shell has crumbled into dust, the inner man will keep on living with the Lord Jesus forever and ever.
an apostle . . . Here Paul makes his strongest claim to his calling, noting that he was an apostle not of men (plural),
neither by man (singular), but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father who raised him from the dead.
What Paul is actually saying here is this: "I am an apostle. No group of men chose me, and no individual man chose me: I was ordained to this position by Jesus Christ and by God the Father." He thus stresses two negative aspects of his calling, and one positive aspect of it. He was NOT appointed by men, NOT by man, but by the LORD Himself.
This raises the question: What is an apostle? The English word apostle is actually a transliteration of the Greek word apostolos. just as the English word baptize is a transliteration of the Greek word baptizo, meaning to immerse or dip in water. Since we had no word in English for this concept, the original translators simply adopted the Greek word into English. So it was with apostle. Since English had no real equivalent of the word apostolos, the translators transliterated it almost letter for letter into our language.
But what does the word apostle actually mean? Strong defines it as "a delegate; spec. an ambassador of the Gospel; officially a commissioner of Christ [apostle'] (with miraculous powers): --apostle, messenger, he that is sent."
We know from Ephesians 4:11 that the office of apostle is one of the five-fold ministry gifts given to the Church by the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father. But in order to more fully understand this office, we are going to consider five different aspects of the word apostle:
Seven Points About Apostleship.
1. Apostleship is the highest office in the Church of Jesus Christ.
'James strong, Strong's Exhaustive Concordance Of The Bible, (Nashville: Abingdon, 1890), p. 15, Greek Dictionary of the New, Testament.
As we have seen, the Greek word apostolos simply means "a sent one." But if we trace the word back even farther into history, we learn that it came from the ancient Phoenician language in which it referred to the highest ranking officer in the Phoenician navy (the equivalent of our English word admiral). Does this have any significance for us today? I think it does. In 1 Corinthians 12:28 we read these words written by Paul: And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Notice that phrase, ...FIRST apostles. This would seem to indicate that the office of the apostle was the primary one in the Church. This is further evidence that the word's original meaning of highest ranking officer was not lost to the Greek-speaking New Testament Church. The first-century Christians seemed to have looked upon the apostle as the highest ranking Official in the hierarchy of church leadership instituted by the Lord.
This truth was borne out in a vision Brother Kenneth Hagin received in which the Lord told him that the reason this verse was written this way by Paul was because the highest calling in the ministry gifts is that of the apostle.
But was Paul a high-ranking official in the early Church? I believe so. In 2 Corinthians 11 and 12 Paul speaks of his thorn in the flesh and all the troubles he had undergone for the sake of the Gospel. He speaks of having been in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, and in perils among false brethren (2 Cor. 11:26). But then he goes on to add in verse 28, Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Paul was an overseer of all the various churches that he established during his missionary journeys. So his was the work of an apostle, of one of highest rank. 2. Apostleship is a spiritual ministry gift given by Jesus Christ and God the Father.
In I Corinthians 12:28, notice Who it is Who sets these offices in the Church: And GOD hath set some in the church.... Bob Yandian did not set Bob Yandian in the office of pastor. God the Father placed him there. If you have a calling on your life to one of the five-fold ministry offices, no man placed that calling on you, God placed it. And if God has called you, He will surely see to it that you have ample opportunity to fulfill that calling. All you have to do is stand firm and allow Him to fulfill it through you. Your part is to pray and stay in the Word. God will develop the gift. It's not up to you to promote yourself, your task is simply to prove yourself faithful. God will see to the rest.
In Ephesians 4:11 we find this statement: And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers. Who is it Who "gave some'? Jesus Christ. How do we know this? Four verses back we read these words: But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the GIFT of CHRIST (v. 7). So the apostle is a gift given (set in) the Church through the cooperation of Jesus Christ and God the Father.
So when Paul asserts that he is an apostle (one of highest rank), chosen and commissioned to ministry, not by men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, he is claiming divine ordination (which is the case of every true apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher). (Eph. 4:11.) When Paul made reference to the fact that he was divinely ordained rather than ordained by men, he was probably referring to the Jewish council in Jerusalem. The reason he stresses this point is because his credentials and his authority to minister as an apostle of Jesus Christ were called into question by the legalistic Judaizers. They wanted to know, "Who is this Paul?"
They were quick to Point out that he had no papers showing that he had been certified as an apostle by the Jerusalem council. This, of course, was true, because Paul argues that apostleship is not of men, but of God. These detractors would also say that Peter or one of the other disciples had not laid hands on Paul and commissioned him as an apostle. This was also true, because Paul insists that apostleship is not conferred by any certain man but by the Lord.
This is an important truth which is deserving of our attention. No group of men and no one individual passes on the spiritual gifts of the five-fold ministry. These come directly from God. There are other offices in the Word of God which can be given by men by the laying on of hands. (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5.) No one can make himself an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher, and no one can choose and appoint another person to any one of these offices. The right and power of appointment to the five-fold ministry rests solely and exclusively with God the Father and Jesus Christ.
Nor can these ministry gifts be received by faith. Now I am a strong exponent of the teaching of faith. I preach it myself and believe in it wholeheartedly. However, there are some things which simply cannot be received by faith, by simply believing and confessing that you have them. One of these things is appointment to the five-fold ministry. No one can become a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by simply proclaiming, "By faith I believe I am an apostle (prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher)." That will not work. This appointment is a gift divinely and sovereignly conferred upon a person by God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Not only is apostleship not conferred by human hands or received through personal faith, it is also not determined by talent; rather, it is strictly a matter of grace -- Gods grace.